A Driving While Impaired (DWI) charge
may result from any impairing chemical substance, the most common is as a result of consuming alcohol. One of the key factors to a DWI case is your "blood alcohol content" (BAC).
In North Carolina, there are hundreds of arrests made daily for impaired driving. Those arrested are often otherwise law-abiding citizens that have made a poor choice to drive after drinking. Attorney Steven N. Long works hard to defend you against a DWI charge or, at a minimum, to get the best possible outcome in your unique situation. Contact us at (252) 514-0062 to learn more about how we can help you. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we get from our clients when we first meet with them about their DWI charge.
What is “blood alcohol content” level?
Blood alcohol content (BAC) is a measurement of the amount of alcohol found in the blood expressed as a percentage. It is calculated in grams per 210 liters of breath. So a BAC of 0.08 means there is 0.08% alcohol by volume. Measuring BAC is a way for law enforcement to calculate the amount of alcohol someone has had and whether the level affects their ability to drive a motor vehicle.
What are my rights during a DWI traffic stop?
If you are pulled over due to suspicion of DWI or pulled over for any other traffic offense and the the officer suspects impaired driving, you should remember you have certain constitutional and procedural rights. Namely:
- The driver and any passengers have the right to remain silent (except you must provide the officer your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance upon request); and
- If you are a passenger, you are free to leave, unless you are suspected of any other criminal offenses.
If you are arrested or detained, you have additional rights, including the Miranda warnings.
- You continue to have the right to remain silent.
- You have the right to request an attorney immediately.
- You have the right to make a phone call to contact witnesses at the processing location.
What is a portable breath test?
This test is performed by blowing into a hand-held instruments to make a preliminay reading of your breath for the presence of alcohol. The actual percentage results of these tests are not typically admissible in court, but the presence (or lack) of alcohol resulting from the portable test is admissible, so long as the test was properly conducted.
Can I refuse a portable breath test?
Yes, you can refuse a portable breath test. If you choose to do so, it should be done in a respectful and non-threatening manner.
What are standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs)?
Standardized field sobriety tests (SFSTs) are tests approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These tests are claimed to be designed to help law enforcement determine whether a driver is impaired.
There are three Standardized FSTs:
- the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN);
- the One-Leg Stand Test; and
- the Walk-and-Turn Test.
The results of these tests may be used as evidence against you in a DWI case. There are other non-standardized tests, some of which are and some of which are not validated by NHTSA. These are sometimes called "divided attention tests."
Non-standardized FSTs include:
- the finger to nose test
- the finger count test
- the alphabet test
- the reverse counting test
- the coin pickup test
Can I refuse field sobriety tests?
Yes, you can refuse field sobriety tests. If you choose to do so, it should be done in a respectful and non-threatening manner.
After a DWI arrest in North Carolina, will my driver's license be suspended or revoked?
The N.C. DMV can enter an administrative suspension of your license upon arrest for a DWI for a period of 10 days, 30 days, or up to one year depending on several different factors in your unique case and circumstnaces. This means you can lose your driving privilege before you have been found guilty of DWI or any other traffice offense.
After a DWI conviction in North Carolina, what happens to my driver's license?
Upon conviction of a DWI offense, the N.C. DMV can suspend your license from one year to permanently, depending on several different factors in your unique case and circumstances. You may qualify for a "limited driving privilege" if this is your first DWI conviction and you meet other criteria required under the law.
Can I beat a DWI charge in North Carolina?
Like any other traffic or criminal offense, it is possible to beat a DWI charge. However, it is not an easy task. It requires a thorough understanding of the law and a thorough understanding of detection techniques, field sobriety tests, breath tests, and blood tests. Understanding the latter tests is critical to identifying errors (technical or human-made errors) to challenge the reliability of test results.
Aside from errors or unreliable test results, an alleged DWI offender may have had their constitutional rights violated. This happens more often than you might imagine. A violation can lead to the inadmissibility of some or all evidence. Without sufficient evidence, the case may be dismissed, or a not guilty verdict may be achieved.
If you plan to fight your DWI charge, it is in your best interest to have an attorney represent you. The law is very complex. The evidence can be highly technical and scientific. Law enforcement and other expert testimony can be damaging. All these things can lead to a conviction, unless you have the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully challenge them in court.
Attorney Steven N. Long knows the law. His vast prior experience and training in the technical, scientific make-up of field sobriety tests, breath tests, and blood tests make him uniquely qualified to best represent you in a DWI charge.